Over the weekend I attended John’s son’s swimming lesson. He jumped off the diving board for the first time. Every first brings with it pride for my children along with the inevitable thought, John is missing out or we are missing out on experiencing this first with him. Whichever way you look at it, it’s unfair that he is not here.
I left the swimming lesson in a fog of sadness that I couldn’t share this first with John. Lost in my thoughts I began to reverse the car without paying complete attention. I had to brake suddenly when I realised I was going to reverse into a car that was about to drive past behind me. I stopped about half way out of my car park, leaving quite some distance still between myself and the other vehicle. However the lady in the other car was cross at my vague driving skills, she threw her hands up over the steering wheel and proceeded to yell profanities out the window.
The woman’s retort was not called for and I felt hurt by her response, so hurt that tears began to well. In the past something so minor would not have upset me but I had so many things already on my mind she just hit the tip of the ice berg.
She was wanting me to react to her but just as I could have gotten out of the car and made a huge scene I stopped and thought, what is she going through to behave that way towards a stranger? With that I straightened my crown and waved her past.
Anger comes from being hurt and by holding onto anger the only person that it really hurts is yourself. I was proud of myself and I thought “wow I consciously thought about my actions before I reacted” and I felt so much better about it all. I felt happy with the thought that maybe, I may have made that woman’s day a little easier for not reacting. Who knows what battles she was facing.
After this experience I realised my actions made my grief that day easier. If I hadn’t consciously stopped and let it go, I would have gone home in a cranky, depressed mood and angry that I couldn’t share yet another thing with John.
This event gave me the idea to write a happiness list. A list of conscious choices I will strive to live by in each aspect of my life. A list I can go to that allows me to change the way I react to situations and emotions that I encounter on this journey. Here is my list so far.
Don’t take it personally - let it go,
Like water off a ducks back, just let it go. I choose not to hold onto any negative words from other people. I choose not to let any little things in life annoy me. Be carefree, but grounded. It could be personal but the chances are it isn’t. The chances are that anyone wanting to hurt you with words or inconsiderate actions are probably going through their own battle you know nothing about. Be kind always.
Only judge yourself,
Similar to the above, society can be very judgemental. Being judged for behaviours or looks hurts. I know that people judge me by how long they think my grief should last, they judge because they haven’t experienced this grief. And sadly I have even been judged for the way my partner passed away. Complicating my grief process and making it hard for me to talk to anyone about it. The only person anyone should judge is themselves.
Be grateful and live in the moment,
When you consciously choose to live in and appreciate a moment, you’re not thinking of the past or the future. This is difficult to do now but I’m not one to shy away from a challenge.
So whether my moment is one of joy or one of pain. I will strive to live in it and appreciate it, because in doing this I will heal and grow.
Don’t be so serious,
Smile, play like a child, be silly. Go on an adventure, even if just going somewhere you haven’t been before. Do something outside my comfort zone. Each time I have pushed myself into a new situation I end up smiling for it. Laughter really is the best medicine.
The reality is my friends have their own lives and their own families. They want to be there but it’s difficult to find the time when they have young children. They do not know what I need from them. Mostly I don’t like to be alone, so I invite myself over to their houses and call them almost every day. It doesn’t bother me to annoy them because I know they love me regardless. I will annoy them in order to help them help me.
I was recently sent a quote that resonated with me.
“The toughest soldiers fight the hardest wars.”
I’ve always been mentally the strongest person I know, but nothing could have prepared me for the war that grief brings. I believe grief to be one of, if not the most painful thing a person can go through. I am constantly in search of ways to cope and lesson the pain. I hope my list of happiness rules may help another who is on the battlefield with grief as much as it helps me.